Ecological and evolutionary research increasingly uses quantitative synthesis of primary research studies (meta-analysis) for answering fundamental questions, informing environmental policy and summarizing results for decision makers. Knowing how meta-analysis works is important for researchers so that their research can have broader impact. Meta-analytic thinking encourages scientists to see single primary research studies as substantial contributions to a larger picture. To facilitate inclusion in a meta-analysis, relevant primary research studies must be found and basic information about the methods and results must be thoroughly, clearly and transparently reported. While many published papers provide this information, it is common for essential data to be omitted, leading to study exclusion from meta-analyses. We provide guidelines for correctly reporting basic data needed from primary studies in ecology and evolutionary biology so that they can be included in meta-analyses, together with examples that show how data should be reported to enable calculation and analysis of effect sizes, and how data should be made accessible. These guidelines are important for reporting research results in general, whether or not results are included in subsequent meta-analyses, because they are necessary for the interpretation and assessment of study outcomes. Increased implementation of these guidelines by authors, editors and publishers, and reinforcement by funders, will foster higher quality and more inclusive syntheses, further the goals of transparency and reproducibility in science, and improve the quality and value of primary research studies.
Will your paper be used in a meta-analysis? Make the reach of your research broader and longer lasting
Methods in Ecology and Evolution
Article published in PLOS ONE
Article published in Limnology and Oceanography